The Back Pain Journey

Back pain is never easy to deal with. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pulled back muscle or you have a herniated disc that is the cause of your pain. The point is that your back hurts and it can often feel like there aren’t many options available for you to get help. On top of being in pain, you may not even be sure how to navigate the medical system in order to get the care that you desperately need. But don’t worry, there are many options available to you and many different ways to go about your care in order to find a solution for your back pain. As you keep reading, get to know your different options and the typical back pain journey that many experience.

General Practitioner

The first place that many people start when it comes to medical care in general is their primary care physician or general practitioner. This is often required by many insurance companies, and it can help to rule out many different possible causes and get started on the testing path, which can include MRIs and x-rays. Once a general practitioner rules out all of the basic and minor possibilities, they may then refer you to an orthopaedic or spinal specialist.

Orthopaedic or Spinal Specialist

It can take up to several months to get in with a specialist for back pain. The specialist’s job is to evaluate all of your symptoms and any imaging to look for a specific cause of your pain. They are able to go into greater depth concerning the various spinal structures, spacing, and functionality of the spine in order to potentially whittle down a cause and treatment.

Testing (MRI, X-Rays)

If you haven’t had imaging done prior to your visit with a specialist, the odds are that they order an MRI to get a clearer picture of what is happening in your back. A specialist may order an MRI, x-rays, a CT scan, or other specific tests.

At this point, you have several different options. You can pursue alternative therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, along with the traditional medical route. You can opt to see an integrated back pain specialist. Or you may be referred to a physical therapist. All of these are options to be considered depending on your diagnosis.

Physical Therapy

One option is to pursue physical therapy as recommended by a doctor in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding your spine. This can be an effective course of treatment for specific conditions and specific severities.


Pain medications and muscle relaxants, and maybe even nerve medications, may be prescribed by your doctor in order to treat the symptoms associated with your back pain. Keep in mind that they can help, but most of the time, are not a fix for the actual problem.

If physical therapy, medications, and alternative treatments don’t work, then a specialist may recommend a surgical procedure in order to resolve your back pain.


Surgery can be exceptionally invasive and has many risks associated with it. There are a handful of cases that absolutely require surgical options in order to provide needed spinal stability and solutions. There are also times where surgery could actually do more harm than good. Premature spinal fusions and other operations may cause long-term pain and harm, so approach surgical solutions with caution.

Integrated Back Pain Specialist

Instead of invasive surgical options, you could also see an integrated back pain specialist at any point in your back pain journey. A back pain specialist may be able to provide you with less invasive back pain treatment options when surgery seems like your last option.

Minimally Invasive Solutions

There are a wide variety of minimally invasive solutions available in order to help you find relief from you back pain. These options can range from steroid injections under fluoroscopy to endoscopic discectomies for herniated discs. There are options to get you back on your feet.


After any procedure, it’s important to follow up with your back pain specialist or spinal surgeon. These followups are intended to help monitor the amount of improvement after any procedure or treatment. After a followup, it will be decided if you need another treatment option, if there has been noted improvement, or if pain management is the last option available for you.

Pain Management Programs

If you’ve traveled the back pain journey to no avail, a doctor may recommend simply following pain management protocols in order to help you have the best quality of life possible. More often than not, pain management includes medications, but can also include cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, an exercise regimen, or alternative therapies.

Patient Discharge

A patient can be discharged from a doctor’s care for a variety of reasons. Hopefully, a patient is discharged after finding a solution to their back pain. However, a patient can be discharged because there are no more solutions a doctor can provide in order to stop the back pain. That’s when it’s important to try a different approach to treating your back pain.

Here at the Spine Institute of North America, we work hard to help you find real, meaningful solutions to your back pain. We avoid extremely invasive surgical options in order to best treat your needs in the most effective ways possible. Come see us in New Jersey if you’re suffering from back pain and need help to reclaim your life. Schedule your appointment today.

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